Walker steps in it

He’s getting creamed in the polls.

I would have guessed that a recently-elected governor would come out ahead in a confrontation with public-sector unions over collective-bargaining rights.

But I would have been wrong. In a Rasmussen [!] poll, 48% of Wisconsin registered voters “strongly disapprove” of Walker’s performance.*

So far, the right-wing echo chamber is still echoing; the facts about public opinion don’t seem to penetrate that darkness any more than the facts about, say, global warming or macroeconomics.

If you have some political cash to give this cycle, the Wisconsin recall effort looks to me like a good target. Picking off even a couple of them would be a big gain; politicians notice that kind of thing. Already, some of the Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate are hearing footsteps.

And here’s hoping for a Walker recall next year, as soon as he’s eligible for the boot.

* This performance, on the other hand, isn’t bad at all.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

19 thoughts on “Walker steps in it”

  1. A fairly well-done example of the genre, but I wish the satirists would find something similar to do that didn’t involve Hitler.

  2. Kleiman: So far, the right-wing echo chamber is still echoing…

    Clamorously. Like someone beating cell bars with an iron pipe. Earlier in the week Josh Marshall called it: Advanced Crazyology, 101. Imagine opening your morning paper out on the driveway this morning and the top story is: AZ Senate favors Wis. gov, tea party license plates:

    PHOENIX – The budget is not balanced. The governor wants to eliminate health care for 250,000 people. Nearly one out of 10 Arizonans who want jobs can’t find one. And there are plans to slash funding for higher education. But that didn’t keep the state Senate from taking the time Thursday to debate and approve a resolution supporting the Republican governor of Wisconsin in his fight with labor unions. Senators also voted to create yet another special license plate. But unlike some others aimed at raising money for causes like spaying pets, service to veterans and organ donation, the proceeds from this license plate would benefit tea party groups around the state. And lawmakers gave preliminary approval to declaring the Colt single-action Army revolver the official state firearm. That last one proved too much for Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix…

    And the paper invites you to open to A5. Otay…
    Later I’m online browsing Marshall’s site and this appears deep in the grid: Arizona Senate Passes Bill To Let State Nullify Federal Laws. Wow. You go Reb! Fulminous with rage, six generations past his last beating, and look at him begging for more. Really stunning stuff…

    It’s what Jon Talton calls the Full Kook. Me? I call it a perfect storm of bitter, aging, raging, white Rebs. They just can’t stomach the fact that we have a black president. They would nullify his citizenship if they could. He is for them the Great Usurper. They hate this guy as much as their moral ancestors hated Lincoln.

    Poor Rebs…

    It blows their minds that our black president is more articulate than them, more well-read, better educated, thinner, younger, prettier as Ali would have it, and has a more beautiful family. God how that black bile galls. It’s rankling them to death. And I’ve got good news: They got another 5 years of Lincoln and Michelle urging their children to exercise and eat right. Ha! How delicious a thought is that?

    Which leads me to my thought of the week:
    The absolute best revenge?
    Win again in 2012 and drive the Rebs off the cliff…

    Con much gusto mis hermanos!

  3. Wow, that license plate story is pretty incredible. Of the $25 special-plate surcharge, $17 goes to tea party groups?! I mean, I’m actually for creating some sort of public-financing/political access to the airwaves system, but in my conception it was going to be for everyone, not just for the tea party.

    To be slightly more fair, buying the plate would actually be an inefficient way of getting the money to the tea party (better to buy a bumper sticker and send the change), but still – getting the state involved just seems nuts. I thought these people claimed to be opposed to taxes and to government meddling?

  4. The Rasmussen poll is indeed surprising on the surface. My read of this is that these results are a combination of two factors:

    1) The survey results don’t parse out the results for those who are not in a union, in a union family, have close relatives who are union members, or who would benefit directly from collective bargaining agreements (e.g., non-union mid-level managers working for the state). You take a representative poll of the state and you’re likely to get a non-trivial fraction of those who work for one of the biggest (if not the biggest) employers in the state (i.e., state government). Who is gonna say that they approve of the boss when the boss is targeting their paycheck? You have to look at the results among those who don’t have a clear and direct dog in the fight in terms of a livelihood.

    2) I don’t think the majority of the public who do not have their livelihood tied to state government work fully understand the extent of the damage that unions are doing to their wallets and to state budgets. From an uninformed perspective, it may seem like Walker is being mean or is making a fuss about nothing. The uninformed public see all the ruckus on TV, hear the lies being perpetuated by the left, but don’t understand it. This is what I believe is a big part of what is going on in this poll. Of course I could be wrong, I’m making the same argument that the left made about the polls on the healthcare bill (i.e., that the public would support it if they just understood it) but they were wrong.

    Here’s just one example of the damage that unions do, in an area that I know best. In many states like my own, the correctional officers union is a very powerful union. The states have built so many prisons in recent decades, mostly in rural areas. And once these damn prisons are built, they become a major source of union jobs in the rural communities where they are built. So even when the prison population is declining, the unions fight hard to keep these prisons open. And keeping them open means finding inmates to put in them, either by incarcerating more people or by taking inmates from other states. And a disproportionate amount of inmates in state prisons come from disadvanted minority communities. So we are keeping prisons open and locking up a whole lot of young black males in order to keep union jobs for mostly white folks. This is crazy to me. In my experience, the union is one of the largest obstacles to implementing a much needed reduction in state prison populations.

  5. “So we are keeping prisons open and locking up a whole lot of young black males in order to keep union jobs for mostly white folks. ”

    Um, yeah, this is ‘cuz of the public unions. Bad public unions! The young black males would be free if it weren’t for those damn UNIONS. After all, nobody else acquires profit from the tax-payer money that goes into keeping these people locked up.

  6. Bux. your first point is more than a little weird. Sure, the victims, their families, their friends, and assorted other sympathizers are going to be inclined to protest the proposed victimization. This is hardly a reason to exclude them from consideration. Arranging a poll to exclude these people would presumably get a result less sympathetic to their travails – but that would make it a poll less representative of the populace, and the electorate.

    Your second point isn’t a lot better – to the extent that union exploitation of management’s weakness has been a problem, the problem there is management’s weakness. Ruling that people can’t bargain collectively is not a just response; if their demands are unsustainable, you reject their demands, you don’t make the formulation of those demands illegal.

  7. “So we are keeping prisons open and locking up a whole lot of young black males in order to keep union jobs for mostly white folks.” – Bux

    Do you have some (any) evidence for this (incendiary) statement?

    A judge went to jail back east for populating a juvenile detention center with inmates, because such an act is a serious offense. If you have any evidence for what you claim, it should be addressed, and if not, you’re just blowing smoke.

  8. It isn’t often I agree with Bux, but I recall hearing news reports that vested interests have lobbied hard for tough sentencing laws that maximize the prison population. These interests include correction officers’ unions, and also include for-profit prison firms. I’m sure that both would characterize their lobbying as part of their tough-on-crime ideology, but it does work to their benefit. I’m not defending his racial spin on this – for one thing, I have no idea about the racial composition of corrections officers – but it’s a well-known fact that our country incarcerates its Black citizens a lot more often and more severely than its White citizens, including for identical or equivalent crimes.

  9. So, in theory, how is this different from Democrats enacting Obamacare, knowing that it’s unpopular? You assumed, or at least claimed to, that it would become popular once the public got a taste of it, and that, having been elected, you were entitled to rule even in ways the public opposed. Why are Walker and the Republican legislative majority in any different position? Are they not equally entitled to assert that their chosen policy is good even if some people don’t like it, pursue it anyway, and take their lumps in the next election if the public continues to be unhappy about it?

    If elected majorities are entitled to act against public opinion, they’re entitled to do it even if you’re not them.

  10. Let me point out here that healthcAre reform is not as unpopular as the rightwing echo chamber wants us to believe. The numbers have been posted here before. The ACA is

  11. Sorry, posting on an iPod is a little tricky, as I was saying, the ACA is only unpopular if you lump the people who don’t think it goes far enough in with the people who say they are against reform. Also, the opposition to the bill is strangely out of sync with the popularity of it’s provisions.

  12. Also, Obama campaigned hard on health care reform, not so with Walker and eliminating collective bargaining for state workers.

  13. Brett,

    Mark’s post really doesn’t address any of that. It’s just about the political consequences of the fight.

    Also, what doretta said.

    Regardless, I don’t get your point. No one is saying the WI bill would be illegitmate if it passed despite being unpopular. They are entitled to do exactly what you say. The problem they have is passing it. In that sense the Democratic exodus is just like a filibuster – a tactic used by a legislative minority to prevent passage of a bill they oppose strongly. If HCR had been defeated by a filibuster I presume you wouldn’t have complained.

  14. Brett makes a fine mythical point about fairness:

    The long Democratic primary featured a ton of broadcasted debates where the central issue was health care plans. So too with the with Obama-McCain debates. One could legitimately argue that health care reform was the main issue of the 2010 election. And of course we know too that Walker spent an equal amount of his campaign time promulgating the need to destroy the teacher’s union collective bargaining rights. In fact you can mythically argue that it was the main issue of Walker’s 2012 election. And so, fair is fair. These two cases aren’t like comparing lambs and wolves in lamb skins. Rather they are like orangapple hybrids and apples…

  15. “The uninformed public see all the ruckus on TV, hear the lies being perpetuated by the left, but don’t understand it.”

    And on what TV do the great unwashed hear the lies of the left? It’s extraordinary how rightists engage in projection every time they open their mouths.

  16. While I’ll concede that screaming Hilter at one’s political foes is generally a tacky thing to do – this short film is classic political humor. Thanks for making me laugh on a rainy Manhattan day!

  17. @Bux: “You have to look at the results among those who don’t have a clear and direct dog in the fight in terms of a livelihood.”

    Why on earth should we make this distinction? Government employees vote and so do their friends and families. A vote from somebody who’s mad about losing her job counts just as much as a vote from a poli-sci professor who’s spent the last ten years studying the issues.

    @Brett Bellmore: “If elected majorities are entitled to act against public opinion, they’re entitled to do it even if you’re not them.”

    Sure they are. And the public is entitled to vote them out of office in the next election. Having public opinion in its favor does not make a policy good or bad; it merely determines whether that policy’s proponents are more or less likely to stay in office.

    I think Gov. Walker’s policy here is utterly reprehensible. But that doesn’t mean he’s not legally entitled to enact it. Contrary to what a lot of folks on the right seem to think, there is a difference between what’s morally justifiable and what’s allowed under law. Cheating on your girlfriend is reprehensible, but it is not (and should not be) illegal.

  18. Musical satire has been sadly lacking recently, but this has been doing the rounds.

    “This Walker’s made for Booting”

    To the tune of “These boots are made for walking” with apologies to Nancy Sinatra

    (Surely with all the musical talent around, someone could dub over this clip)

    You keep saying you’ve got something for us.
    something you call fairness, but confess.
    You’ve been messin’ where you shouldn’t have been a messin’
    and David Koch is gettin’ all our best.


    This Walker’s made for bootin’, and that’s just what we’ll do
    Get ourselves a gov’nor who we know is straight and true

    You ‘bin Koching when you shoulda’ been sharing
    You’re so far right but you ain’t been right yet
    You’re puffed up like you think you’re Ronnie Reagan
    You know you’re just another rich man’s pet


    You keep cuttin’ where you shouldn’t be cuttin’
    and you keep thinkin’ that you´ll never get burnt. Ha!
    We just wrote us some brand new recall papers yeah
    and what we know you ain’t HAD time to learn.

    These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do_one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.

    Are you ready, boots?

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